Voices of Alaska Education
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.
November 2020
Lon Garrison Named Association of Alaska 
School Boards Executive Director
The Association of Alaska School Boards’ (AASB) Board of Directors announced that Lon Garrison has been selected as the new Executive Director. Garrison succeeds outgoing Executive Director Norm Wooten, who will retire in 2021.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be selected to lead AASB during these unprecedented times,” said Garrison. “I will strive to promote the organization’s mission, advance the priorities of our membership, and, most importantly, be an effective advocate for Alaska’s students.”

Garrison previously held the position of Director of Membership Services. He joined AASB in 2015 as School Improvement Coordinator. Before that, Lon was a member of the AASB Board of Directors for eight years, serving as president in 2012. He also served on the Sitka school board for nearly nine years, five years as board president. 

Lon has a passion for school governance and has participated in school board governance and leadership at the local, state and national level. He has extensive experience in board development, superintendent searches, comprehensive policy services, and school improvement support.

As a former salmon enhancement biologist, Garrison spent many years living and working in remote locations of Southeast Alaska. He has a B.S. in Fisheries Biology from Colorado State University and attended graduate school at the University of Vermont.

Garrison will assume the duties of the Executive Director on January 2, 2021. Outgoing AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten will remain on staff through May 2021 to assist with legislative advocacy.

Norm Wooten
AASB Executive Director
Passing the Torch
As I write my final article for AASB’s Commentary I want to thank you for the incredible opportunity it has been for me serve as your Executive Director. I’ve had a wide array of careers during my life but working and serving at AASB has been the pinnacle of my professional life. The service you provide to Alaska’s young people as school board members has and will continue to ensure the success of Alaska in this nation. 
I thank you for allowing me to be a partner with you in this endeavor we call public education. I have had the privilege to visit and see the areas where you reside. You have shared your homes, families, and culture with me and made me a better person for the experience. I thank you for your support, friendship, and most of all your service to public education.

Tiffany Jackson
Director of Membership Services
Tiffany Jackson Joins AASB Staff
The Association of Alaska School Boards is pleased to announce that Tiffany Jackson has joined the organization as Director of Membership Services. She replaces Lon Garrison in the position, following his transition to AASB Executive Director. 

"I’m thrilled to be joining AASB’s experienced team,” Jackson said. “As a strong champion for public education, I look forward to supporting Alaska's school boards and district leaders in the critical work of educating our students, and advancing the equity efforts of the association."
Ms. Jackson was elected to the Aleutians East Borough School Board in 2007 and served ten terms as President. She has been a member of the AASB board from 2010-2020, serving as president in 2015 and 2018. In the spring of 2016, Jackson won election to the National School Boards Association board, becoming the first Alaska Native/American Indian to win a seat on the NSBA governing body. From 2016-2020 she served as NSBA's Pacific Region Director, Executive Committee member, and Chair of the Policy and Resolutions Committee. Ms. Jackson most recently served as the Executive Director of the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe of Sand Point. She is a wife and mom to three children, one who graduated from, and two who currently attend Alaska public schools.

Since becoming a school board member, Tiffany has persistently worked to develop her board skills, and encourages other board members to do the same to improve their role in governing our school districts, and become more effective advocates for all of Alaska's students. 

Jackson begins work as AASB Director of Membership Services on January 2, 2021.
Stronger Together: New Family Partnerships Framework for Alaskans
Claudia Plesa, AASB Community Engagement Manager
Across Alaska, and nationally, school staff report a real desire for training and support for effective family partnership approaches. In response, AASB is introducing a new framework, Stronger Together: The Power of Family and School Partnerships.
What is the framework?
Stronger Together: The Power of Family and School Partnerships offers foundational information and practical tools for school staff to strengthen their family partnership practices. Available in digital and hard-copy formats, the framework introduces a series of core building blocks, stories, family partnership planning tools and ideas on how to support family partnerships at a distance. The framework can be found here.

Each building block helps educators understand how to build strong relationships with families that better link learning to families and place.

AASB Provides Free PPE Masks to Schools
Juneau Superintendent Bridget Weiss
receives cases of protective masks
from AASB’s Heather Shaw.
The multi-color masks are constructed of lightweight 100% cotton fabric and are adjustable to fit children and adults.
To help offset the increased costs of school safety during the pandemic AASB, in partnership with NSBA and Bella+Canvas, secured 80,000 PPE masks that are being provided free to our member districts. Allocation is based on each district's ADM.

AASB is asking for assistance with shipping the masks from Juneau to your district. If you have questions, please contact Heather Shaw or call (907) 463-1660.
Upcoming Events
This year’s training for Executive Administrative Assistants is an opportunity to connect and share ideas with colleagues from around the state and learn about:

  • Human Resources
  • Keeping Track of Board Policy
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Your Role in School Board Elections

Thursday, December 10
Registration Fee: $99 per person
The Pandemic for Which There is No Vaccine: Understanding the Parameters Of Sexual Boundary Violations In Schools

AASB has been working with statewide partners around professional boundaries, which has resulted in a new Professional Boundaries of Staff with Students board policy, available to all school districts. Join John Sedor and other experts covering topics including:

  • What are boundaries?
  • How to report boundary concerns?
  • What do boundary investigations look like?
  • Case studies from Alaska school districts

Friday, December 11
Registration Fee: $99 per person
Registration is Now Open
for 2021 Alaska School Climate
& Connectedness Survey!
Schools are looking quite different this year. But no matter what shape learning is happening your district- on-line, in -person, or blended, it is essential for students, staff and families to feel safe and connected.
We invite your district to join the over 30 school districts that participate each year in the School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS). This survey is an opportunity to collect and use school climate data to improve and strengthen school environments, relationships, and connections between students, staff and families. This year’s statewide survey window is January 19 - March 26.

For the 2021 school year, additional questions are being added to better understand the needs of students, staff, and families during COVID-19.

For more information and to register, click here:
Contact Jenni Lefing with any questions.
Annual Conference Highlights
Jenni Lefing
AASB School Climate and Conference Coordinator
Virtual 67th Annual Conference Connects Alaska's Education Community
It was so great to see so many of you at AASB’s Virtual Annual Conference.
Transforming AASB’s four day in-person conference into a virtual one seemed impossible at first. However, we were determined to develop and produce a robust conference program with the same quality that you can always expect from AASB. 
In turn, over 200 school board members and district leaders from 36 school districts took part. The conference was a success because of all of you.

This year’s conference theme was Transforming Education through Connections. Since last spring, school districts have had to re-imagine what learning looks like. Whether learning in your district is taking place in person, via distance, or in a hybrid version, having strong connections with our communities and each other is vital for boards to set the environment for all students’ success.
While we weren’t able to connect in person at this year’s conference, we were all together virtually, and many connections were made. It warmed my heart to see board members across districts catching up in their native languages, giving each other virtual hugs, and smiling.
Opportunities for formal and informal discussion about issues that students and educators are facing took place throughout the weekend. Board members attended networking lounges, posted comments on the Zoom chat, and had opportunities to connect during breakout sessions (30-70 people attended each session), and in breakout rooms in smaller groups.
Saturday’s general session featured William H. Parrett, who presented on The Board’s Role in Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.

Mr. Parrett’s keynote offered specifics and prompts for board members to think deeper about what you can do as a school board, starting with asking yourself, “Are ALL students achieving AND succeeding?” 

Parrett identified these key actions that school boards can do to think about this:
  • Consider Your Budget a Moral Document
  • Hold High Expectations for ALL students
  • Establish a Clear Vision and Goals for Superintendent and ALL Leaders.
  • Conduct Frequent Monitoring of Gap Closing Progress
  • Effectively Communicate the Work to Districts/School Community.
“Are ALL of your students achieving AND succeeding?”
- William Parrett

One school board member said that Mr. Parrett’s question, "Do you know your students?" brought home the importance of members visiting schools, having student representation on the Board, and student testimony.
Kameron Perez-Verdia's Sunday keynote expanded on the importance of knowing your students. Kameron shared his story of growing up in Utqiagvik, where he first saw the disconnect between educators and the local community, a disconnect that continues today. He explained that is part of a vicious cycle, in which cultural disconnects are caused by an “either or mindset “when it comes to rural education in Alaska.
This “either or mindset” suggests that to do well, students either need to do reading, writing, math, OR learn the traditional ways of their people. Kameron urged communities and districts to consider a different path, one that that “develops grounded, capable students, and leaves behind this false separation.”

He went on to say that school boards are in the best position to find a path forward, and it is within their power, as “students can be culturally connected and still be prepared to make it in the world.”
An “either or mindset” creates cultural disconnects.
- Kameron Perez-Verdia
To find that path forward, Kameron identified these four steps that school boards should take:
  1. Create your new image- what is your image for your district?
  2. Find the right people to help accomplish your image. Hire people who want to work with you.
  3. Foster relationships between schools and community to create an environment for success. Have the community be part of welcoming teachers to the community.
  4. And most importantly, remember your wisdom and experience. You are the top experts in your community.
We hope that those who attended this year’s conference gained new insights, ideas to support you in your role as a school board member, and that you share them with the rest of your board. As Kameron said, you do have the power to find that path and develop your vision of how to move your district forward.

If there was a session that you didn’t get a chance to attend, or you weren’t able to attend the conference, all slideshows and other public resources are now available on the AASB website.
Registered attendees will have also have access to recorded video of conference sessions (including keynote addresses) though January 31, 2021. Use the password in the email you received post-conference to access the video recordings. If you need assistance locating the password, email AASB or call 907-463-1660.
Miss a session? We've got you covered!
Congratulations Award Winners!
2020 School Board of the Year

Lower Kuskokwim School District Board of Education was named 2020 School Board of the Year by the Association of Alaska School Boards.
2020 Carl Rose Governance Award

Margaret Hansen of Northwest Arctic School District was named recipient of the 2020 Carl Rose Governance Award by the Association of Alaska School Boards.
MacKinnon Educational Excellence and Human Recognition Award

Skagway School Board President John Hischer was named 2020 recipient of the MacKinnon Educational Excellence and Human Recognition Award by the Alaska Superintendents Association.
2020 Superintendent of the Year

Lake and Peninsula School District Superintendent Ty Mase was named 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the Alaska Superintendents Association.
More Award Winners!

Master, Experienced, & Basic Level Recipients
Annual Conference Session Highlights
Our sincere thanks to all of the attendees, presenters, and sponsors from across Alaska who made AASB’s first Virtual Annual Conference such a success! Together, we had three intensive days of learning, sharing, and networking. We welcomed new friends, said farewell to retiring colleagues, and sharpened boardsmanship skills to navigate the challenges ahead.

Over 20 pre-conference events, general sessions, and sectionals were offered, as well as structured and unstructured time for attendees to share stories, perspectives, and knowledge.

Primary focus areas for this year's conference were board skills development, language and cultural integration, pandemic operational strategies. Following are highlights from some of the sessions.
Alaska’s Early Childhood Strategic Plan
Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Program Coordinator Christina Hulquist provided an overview of both the Early Childhood Alaska Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan, and the process used to develop the plan's components.

"Alaska's early childhood care and education system assessment focuses on strengths and needs, particularly for rural, disadvantaged and low-income children prenatal to age eight," Hulquist said. "The report informs efforts to improve the quality, availability and affordability of services for all Alaska children."

She outlined strategies for connecting the plan to the work of school boards and educators, and discussed ways to stay engaged in supporting Alaska’s children and families.

FOCUS: Board Skills Development
Ann Macfarlane
Pre-Conference Session: Great School Board Meetings

Professional Parliamentarian Ann Macfarlane of Jurassic Parliament presented an informative and entertaining pre-conference session on the use of Robert's Rules to run effective meetings. Her presentation was punctuated by audience participation segments, video dramatizations, and small group discussions.

Macfarlane guided attendees through a range of topics that included meeting debate, point of order, appeal, motions and amendments, inappropriate remarks, and the authority and roles of the chair, members and staff.
John Sedor and Betsy Bull
Pursuing a Better Legal Understanding of Board Conflicts and Quagmires

Serving as a School Board Member is not only a unique opportunity, but uniquely challenging. To illustrate this point, John Sedor and Betsy Bull of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans and Filippi, LLC, presented a series of (mostly) real-life examples of legal and ethical situations that can trip up board members. Attendees were confronted with various "quagmire" scenarios and asked to vote on how they would respond. Topics included conflicts of interest, Board meeting challenges, nepotism, and social media use. District policies and Alaska Statutes were cited as guiding principles for successfully navigating sticky situations.

Isabel Mills
Superintendent Evaluation

Kake School Board President Isabel Mills and AASB's Lon Garrison discussed the importance of regular superintendent performance evaluations, why they're important, the elements of a good evaluation process, and how a facilitated evaluation can be beneficial. Small group discussions during the presentation provided opportunities for attendees to discuss their own board's superintendent evaluation process and its effectiveness. The presenters laid out guidelines, tools and metrics for conducting an effective evaluation, and examined how the use of an outside neutral entity conducting a facilitated evaluation can bring objectivity to the process, create space for meaningful discussion, and guide the process to a successful outcome.

Deena Bishop
Planning for a Successful Future

Board member Starr Marsett and Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop from Anchorage School District, and Timi Tullis of AASB provided an in-depth look at the importance of long-range strategic planning and annual board priority setting. They outlined keys to effective planning that included identifying desired outcomes that reflect the board's top priorities, establishing measurable time-based objectives, and focusing on student (rather than adult) outcomes.

The presenters showed samples of Anchorage's SMART policy statements (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, Time-bound), as well as examples of plans from other rural and urban districts.

Tips for Successful Meetings
This interactive session facilitated by Annie Weyiouanna of Bering Straits School District and AASB's Timi Tullis explored the basic components of productive meetings, from room setup, the purpose of an agenda, facilitating board discussions, and public participation guidelines. The real work of the board, they said, is to model desired behaviors, communicate board values, focus on district goals, and make decisions based on what is best for ALL students.

Annie Weyiouanna
FOCUS: Language and Cultural Integration
Barb QasuGlana Amorak
Creating Cultural Knowledge Credential Programs

Nome Public Schools and UAF Northwest Campus have partnered to create a Cultural Knowledge Credential (CKCC), focused on strengthening cultural knowledge of the Bering Strait region to increase effectiveness in the classroom and regional workforce.
Credentials provide students with achievable recognition for completing just a few courses. Once complete, this group of courses will equip local teachers and workers with a better understanding and appreciation for a variety of aspects of cultural knowledge specific to the state of Alaska and the Bering Strait region. A team of presenters that included UAF northwest Campus Direrctor Barb QasuGlana Amorak, Nome Superintendent Jamie Burgess, UAF Program Development Manager Laura Davis Collins, Kawarak, Inc. Attorney Megan Sigvanna Topkok, and Nome Beltz High School language arts teacher Michael Aak'wtaatseen Hoyt, discussed the thought processes, steps, and experiences behind developing a cultural credential program.

John Mark
Language and Culture Immersion in Schools

LKSD Board Vice President John Mark, and Superintendent Kimberly Hankins, along with the Assistant Superintendent and the Directors of Elementary and secondary Education provided an in-depth look at how Yugtun and Cugtun language proficiency is integrated into the key student performance measures and implemented in the district's schools. The presenters showed examples of daily immersion schedules, Dual Language Enrichment Model Classroom Structure, the Yup'ik Proficiency Test, and Yugtun language instructional materials. The process of localizing and translating text was explained, which can include updating pictures, direct translation, or complete rewriting of text to make textbooks more relatable to students' communities and surroundings. To illustrate the localizing process, "before and after" samples from primary and secondary instructional materials were shown. It is expected that 75% of LKSD students will score within proficiency level 4 or higher on the Yup'ik/Cup'ig Proficiency Test by 12th grade.

Janet Johnson
Subsistence Food in Schools

Diane Reed and Janet Johnson of LYSD spoke about the benefits of traditionally gathered food, including being affordable, nutritionally superior to processed foods, and preserving cultural heritage. LYSD schools have field trips for students to gather and process traditional foods with guidance from instructors. They work closely with the district's food service program to ensure federal guidelines are followed.

Heather Lgeik'i Powell of Hoonah City Schools said the best way to find strength for indigenous students is to honor who they are by providing them the ability to be successful in their families and feel valued. The school has deer camp and family culture camp each year. People in the community model gathering and processing traditional foods, which helps keep traditions strong. The experiences are integrated into multiple subject areas.

Chandler O'Connell of the Sitka Conservation Society, supports the Sitka Fish to Schools program that provides commercially caught local fish to local schools and preschools, and has developed a Stream to Plate curriculum for third and fifth graders to illustrate how closely Sitka life is connected to salmon.

Janelle Vanesse
Rethinking College Readiness for Alaska Native Students

Mt. Edgecumbe High School Superintendent Janelle Vanesse discussed how culture—the values and thinking patterns absorbed by a student from their family and community—can help them navigate life after high school. But in order to build on cultural strengths, it’s essential to understand cultural differences.

Ms. Vanesse described these differences as “The School Way of Doing Things” and “Indigenous Thinking/Ways of Knowing.” These cultural differences can influence everything from which academic track a student gets placed on at an early age, to their willingness to ask for help, to their vision for their future.

She said developing a deeper understanding of these differences can help schools sweep out biases and build on cultural strengths. It can also help focus us on developing the whole student, so they aren’t just prepared for college or employment, but for life as a strong member of our community. 

FOCUS: Pandemic Operational Strategies
Terri Walker
Distance Learning: Lessons Learned

Superintendent Terri Walker, Amy Eakin, and Dana Orto provided an overview of the systems and protocols Northwest Arctic Borough has developed for remote and blended learning during the pandemic. Three main instructional components include, 1) Learning materials designed for offline remote learners and loaded onto digital devices, 2) daily communications with staff, parents and communities, and 3) reinforcing and assessing learning. NWABSD Slides

Superintendent Dr. Larry LeDoux Jennie Peterson, Kim Saunders, and Angie Hietala said maintaining continuity of instruction in Kodiak included refocusing curriculum to be home-based and offering To Go Boxes, translators, help lines, and training for students, parents and staff. The district had some advantages that helped them face the challenges, including a 1-to-1 device program already in place, a robust technology infrastructure, and strong community support. Kodiak Slides
Billy Strickland
School Activities During COVID

Alaska School Activities Association Executive Director Billy Strickland began by comparing the short and long-term benefits of youth involvement in activities. They included connecting students to caring adults, the role coaches play in a young person's development, parental involvement with the school, bringing communities together, and teaching us to lose and keep going."It is in these vital programs – sports, music, speech, theatre, debate – where young
people learn lifelong lessons that complement the academic," Strickland said. "Activities are important this year, more than ever." To safely manage activities during the pandemic, schools must have a strong mitigation plan that coaches adhere to, and that students and parents realize their behaviors affect the school's ability to offer activities, and that one person's actions can impact the entire team. Strickland offered guidelines and resources for developing effective mitigation plans. "Activities must operate in a new way," he said. “If it looks like last year, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
Thanks for making the
June Nelson Virtual Auction
a success!
We're grateful for all the fabulous donations from our members! We hope the online auction was enjoyable for you all, and that you had as much fun as we did watching the bidding wars happen!

If you weren't able to donate an item this year, members can directly donate to the scholarship fund by visiting the AASB website.
Special Thanks to Jerry Covey who made a generous cash donation of one full scholarship this year, and in recent years has personally funded over 25 scholarships. We appreciate your support for Alaska's students!
Memories of June Nelson
By Jerry Covey
So, who was June Nelson, and why does she have an elementary school and a scholarship named in her honor?

June Nelson was an Alaska Native education leader, a mother of six children, and a successful business woman. She passed away in 1996.

June was born and raised in Selawik, Alaska, where her parents owned a store. She attended the local BIA school through the 7th grade, which was the highest grade offered at that time. Her education in grades 8_12 was completed at Holy Names High School in Seattle, which at the time, was a Catholic residential high school for girls.
June Nelson
June was passionate about local control of education. She served on the Northwest Arctic REAA School Board and later on the Northwest Arctic Borough School District Board. She was appointed to the Alaska State Board of Education by two different governors. In the mid-1970s, June traveled extensively throughout rural Alaska with Education Commissioner Marshall Lind to train newly elected REAA school boards about their governance responsibilities. As I recall, she also served on the AASB Board of Directors.

Families Sue Massachusetts over Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Students
Allen Clendaniel of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Part four of the series, Ripped from the Headlines

Recently, my family all got the flu shot at a local elementary school. Many Alaskans are doing the same to avoid a barrage of flu cases on top of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Allen Clendaniel
Not all families in the United States, however, are happily lining up for flu shots. Just last week, six families sued Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and the State Department of Public Health over Massachusetts’ requirement that school children be vaccinated against the flu.

Control disorder in your chambers
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
Local governments face a tough climate these days. Customs of courtesy have faded and people are often both passionate and rude about their issues. If you are a mayor or presiding officer of a public body, it is critical that you control disorder in your chambers.

ASK AASB: After certification of an election, when does the board need to reorganize? 
State statute says reorganization should occur within seven days after certification. That can be very difficult in some communities, so we recommend you do it as soon as you possibly can after the certified results are published. Many boards have a special meeting just for this purpose. A reminder that this is the only time secret ballots are allowed for voting. 
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at ASK AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Lon Garrison.
AASB STEPS Spotlight
Articles in this section are excerpted from the AASB STEPS Alaska Promise Neighborhood Newsletter that focuses on the work in progress among the Supporting Transitions and Educational Promise Southeast Alaska (STEPS Alaska) grant regional partners, who are striving to improve outcomes for Southeast Alaska’s youth.
Fall Champion Gathering

The Fall Champion Gathering included a half-day of peer sharing, learning and discussion of Trauma Engaged Staff from CRESEL and STEPS communities as well as from the Lower Kuskokwim and Northwest Arctic School Districts. The gathering was facilitated by Heather Coulehand, Claudia Plesa and Lisa Worl.

During the gathering, the champions were able to:

  • Connect and share SEL/trauma engaged schools work across districts, communities and grants
  • Explore current needs and best practices/solutions to lift up our students, families and staff during the pandemic
  • Identify follow-on resources and supports
  • Give input into a statewide Trauma Engaged Schools vision 

The Trauma engaged staff appreciated having time and space to discuss the current reality and challenges together. Among some of the things they acknowledged as being able to do before COVID included having more structure, less uncertainty, more in-person meetings and one-on-one conversations with students and families.  

Some challenges identified included: how to connect as isolated geographically (with students, staff, and parents), how to build out even more connections, lack of technology (computer/laptops and connectivity), how to connect with secondary remote students, and also how to keep the secondary remote students engaged, and consideration of grading given new platform, etc.  

Encouraging positives that were noted included that staff are “still able to build relationships” and that they are connecting with more families, parents with distance learning. 

The Trauma Engaged Schools (TES) Champions will be meeting again soon to do some planning to prioritize and map out some peer learning topics they’d like to do together, utilizing reflective practice and the Transforming Schools toolkit.
The composite “vision” at right was created by the Champions as they considered their TES work currently and going forward together.

If you are interested in joining the Champions meetings, feel free to reach out to Heather Coulehan.
Photo: Students make jerky
and harvest game in Hoonah.
Subsistence Foods
in the Classroom

Haa Kusteeyí áyá,
This is who we are.

At the 67th Annual Association of Alaska School Boards Conference, partners shared their efforts to build on culture, strengthen student resilience, and incorporate subsistence foods into the schools and classroom. 

From Lower Yukon to Hoonah and south to Sitka, our presenters gave us insight into how they are bringing the natural resources and local culture of their communities to the front of their classrooms.

Yakutat Community Lunch Program

Volunteers in Yakutat have been integral to keeping the community lunch program going. Meals are served at the school several times each week.

Much of the food is donated by local businesses and fishermen. Donations or grants support enhancements of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Long term, the community plans to develop a community garden so that students and community members can grow their own Tlingit potatoes and other fresh foods.
Photo: Brian Wallace/Courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Gunalchéesh yoo x’atángi Kingestí

At the 2019 Sharing our Knowledge Clan Conference, Shangukeidí (Thunderbird) Clan Leader Kingestí David Katzeek shared that Tlíngit decorum was to thank a speaker before continuing to the next “so that their words don’t just float around.” By saying “gunalcheesh”, we recognize the responsibility of having received the gift of those words given to us. As virtual gatherings have come together to honor Kingestí after his passing, it is clear that the words he left with us will not just float around but have been woven into the lives of the children, teachers, and community that he touched. 

To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
State & National News
Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Gov. Dunleavy clarifies statewide COVID-19 emergency alert does not mean schools must close
Emily Goodykoontz, ADN
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy clarified that an emergency alert he issued asking local governments and organizations to work remotely does not apply to schools. At least one Alaska school district had announced a closure in response to the alert.

Governor Dunleavy.
Photo: Mark Thiessen, AP
Alaska is seeing a serious COVID-19 surge. Where are people getting it? Just about everywhere people mix.
Morgan Krakow, ADN
As COVID-19 surges across Alaska, health officials said Thursday that new cases mostly emerged from one scenario: anywhere people mix.

Alaska is dealing with an unprecedented level of COVID-19 cases statewide, and public health officials say even those higher numbers may be an undercount of current cases as test results stack up in a data backlog.
Kia Hasson of Visit Healthcare performs a
free COVID-19 test at the Loussac Library.
Photo: Bill Roth, ADN
Nonetheless, recent numbers show that the virus has spread to all regions of the state, and it’s putting pressure on an already-stretched health care system.

Capitol Report: As COVID cases rise, Legislature is highly unlikely to gather in Juneau
Senator Gary Stevens, Cordova Times
With the general elections behind us, the members of the 31st Alaska State Legislature have a little over two-months left before the end of interim. With COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout the state, it is highly unlikely the Legislature will gather in Juneau again this year, though some committees will continue to hold hearings utilizing virtual meeting technology.
Senator Gary Stevens
While some lawmakers will be leaving office in January, newly elected and returning legislators are looking ahead to next session. In 2021, we will be tackling the many challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to the impact on the budget of low oil prices and dwindling state savings. Balancing the budget while ensuring the core services that our citizens and communities rely upon are funded will not be easy, but I believe the new Legislature will accomplish this work within our 90-day session limit.

Heavily Republican incoming class of new Alaska legislators prepares for next session
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media
Alaska voters elected 13 new members to the state Legislature. The first-time lawmakers are a heavily Republican group; the only Democrat is also the only woman. 
Alaska State Capitol in Juneau.
Photo: Skip Gray/360 North
Ron Gillham is one of the new members joining the House. The Soldotna Republican said the new members from his party have a lot in common, including many of the same principles. “We want a smaller budget, we want a smaller government,” he said.

Despite his serious coronavirus infection, Don Young still doesn’t support mask mandates or hunkering down
Libby Casey, ADN
Alaska Rep. Don Young, the longest-serving member of the U.S. House and who initially downplayed the severity of COVID-19, said in an interview Monday that he is recovering from a brutal case of the disease.

“I’ve been shot, I’ve been rolled over, I’ve been hit in the head a hundred times, but I’ve never felt as bad as I did” with the virus, Young said. “This is not good.”

U.S. Rep. Don Young speaks during a ceremony in Anchorage. Photo: Mark Thiessen, AP
Alaska School District News
Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Mayoya Aina, Alaska Public Media

In addition to the coronavirus crisis, Alaska education officials say they’re preparing for a budget crisis.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media

The Anchorage School District faces a loss of $15.2 million as a result of lower than expected student enrollment according to the district’s finance team, which presented a report to the Anchorage School Board finance committee.
Emily Goodykoontz, ADN

The pandemic is carving deeper Anchorage’s already existing disparities in a school district where more than a third of students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Loren Holmes, ADN

On a recent school day, around 30 Homestead Elementary second graders joined music teacher Hannah Johnston as she sang happy birthday to one of their teachers. As she played piano, the children all joined in at slightly different times. The result was not exactly harmonious, but everyone was happy. Because even though they were all in different rooms, they were making music together, connected over the videoconference app Zoom.
Tim Ellis, KUAC

The eastern Interior town of Tok has Alaska’s first and only electric-powered school bus. The vehicle has in use since mid-October, and it was put to the test earlier this month, when it transported students without any problem after the temperature had dropped to 35 below.
Brian Venua, Bristol Bay Times

Dillingham's school is closing to in-person learning due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the community. The district shifted to online and virtual education. The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation officially designated the school district as high-risk.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Fairbanks North Star Borough public schools Superintendent Karen Gaborik said Friday she has no regrets about directing teachers to work from home after Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued an emergency message asking all Alaskans to step up COVID-19 mitigation.
Robyne, KUAC

Families and teachers are feeling pressure to return students to classrooms, in spite of the highest COVID-19 case numbers seen since the pandemic started. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is operating in the “Red Operational Zone,” with most students learning from home. But the school board is asking for more options.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A new high school English Language Arts Curriculum passed in a narrow 4-3 vote of the school board Tuesday following a year of discussions, four revisions, hundreds of emails, and hours of spoken testimony.
Claire Stremple, KHNS

Alaskans received emergency SMS warnings from the state as Governor Mike Dunleavy tightened COVID-19 restrictions in response to its rapid spread. State employees are asked to work from home and the governor encouraged Alaskans to mask up. Haines Borough Superintendent Roy Getchell says those warnings aren’t lost on the school.
Adelyn Baxter, KTOO

The City of Hoonah learned that three people tested positive for the virus. Hoonah City Schools had been open for in-person learning since the start of the school year but moved classes online after administrators learned that a student who traveled outside the community may have been exposed to the virus.
KINY, Juneau

X̱ántsii Náay Haida Immersion Preschool in Hydaburg is in its third year, serving about 15 Hydaburg children between the ages of three and five. According to Sealaska, the school is part of a larger language revitalization initiative aimed at preserving X̱aad Kíl, or the Haida language.
Pablo Arauz Peña, KTOO

Kindergarten students could return to in-person classes by the end of the month. But with the state currently at a high-risk level and holidays coming up, the school district is divided over whether that needs to happen.
KINY, Juneau

At what level will the Juneau School District be comfortable bringing students back to the classroom? That question was posed to Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss while a guest on Action Line.
Staff, Homer News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has extended remote learning status for schools in all three of its main regions through at least Thanksgiving break due to the continued rise of COVID-19 cases on the peninsula.
Eric Stone, KRBD

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Ketchikan, and officials hope that moving some classes online will help slow the spread. Ketchikan’s school board voted unanimously at an emergency meeting to activate a new phase of its COVID-19 mitigation plan.
Eric Stone, KRBD

Two local government bodies will now recognize Ketchikan’s original inhabitants before each public meeting. That’s after the local school board voted Wednesday to join the Ketchikan City Council in reading what’s known as a “land acknowledgment” before getting down to business.
Andrew Kenneson, Kodiak Daily Mirror

The Kodiak Emergency Services Council reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 new cases on Saturday. Friday was the second-highest single-day record since the start of the pandemic. Kodiak schools switched to remote learning for schools in town, as well as for Chiniak School, until Jan. 11.
Andrew Kenneson, Kodiak Daily Mirror

205 students, staff and administrators with the Kodiak Island Borough School District were tested for COVID-19. The mass testing, provided by the Kodiak Area Native Association, was part of the district’s effort to tamp down on a recent outbreak.
Greg Kim, KYUK

After five years, the Lower Kuskokwim School District has reached a settlement with its insurance companies for the Kilbuck School fire. The school burned down in November 2015.
Zaz Hollander, ADN

For the first time since the school year began in August, all Mat-Su schools will shift to remote learning next week amid what district officials called the exponential spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Wesley Early, KOTZ

A former teacher at the Trapper School in the village of Nuiqsut is suing the North Slope Borough School District, claiming the district did not properly address racist actions by students.
Angela Denning, KFSK

How can the Petersburg School District keep students learning in-person on campus when COVID cases are spiking throughout the state? The district’s school board is considering a testing requirement for in-state travel that matches the state’s interstate testing requirements. The school board held a special meeting to discuss the proposal.
Katharine Rose, KCAW

As Americans watched the presidential race draw to an end over the last few months, an educator in Sitka was quietly celebrating her own executive victory. Earlier this year, Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s Chohla Moll won one of the most prestigious awards a science teacher in the United States can get.
Sage Smiley, KSTK

Wrangell’s schools’ superintendent may not be leaving at the end of the school year. Debbe Lancaster had submitted her letter of resignation in October, but at a school board meeting earlier this week indicated she might be willing to stay longer.
Greg Kim, KYUK

After several weeks during which hundreds of Y-K Delta residents tested positive for COVID-19, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation recommended that all schools shut down in-classroom learning for two weeks. Many of the six school districts in the Y-K Delta are following that advice, but not all.
Alaska School Sports News
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Sophia Desalvo, KNOM

After weeks of uncertainty about the future of their seasons, Alaska athletes participating in basketball, cheerleading, and potentially wrestling, are set to begin competing this upcoming winter and spring.
Tim Ellis, KUAC

Four days after Delta Junction's mayor ordered the local hockey rink closed to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, the City Council voted in Tuesday’s meeting to re-open it, in response to an outcry from the local hockey association.
Megan Pacer, Peninsula Clarion

In their last competitive event of the season, the Homer girls swim team claimed victory, and some closure, at the Kenai Peninsula Swimming Championships on Saturday in Homer.
Derek Clarkston, Kodiak Daily Mirror

A collection of Kodiak Kingfishers will be competing at the two-day 2020 Alaska State High School Invitational that begins today at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.
Gabby Hiestand Salgado, KYUK

The coronavirus is shutting down schools all over the Y-K Delta. In the Lower Kuskokwim School District, with every school closed due to the overwhelming high rates of COVID-19, students are starting to adjust to what a remote learning year is going to look like. However, there is one big concern on every student athlete’s mind: will there be sports this year?
AASB Webinars
. WEBINAR . Welcome to the Board!
Presenters: AASB staff and Katie Oliver, AASB President-elect.
Were you just elected to your board? Do you have questions? We have answers!
. WEBINAR . How the Board can Support their Superintendent during the COVID Pandemic
Presenters: Clint Champion, Dr. Bridget Weiss, Scott MacManus, Lon Garrison, and Timi Tullis. Co-sponsored by AASB and the Alaska Superintendent's Association.
AASB Workshops for You and Your Board
AASB now offers condensed, distance-delivered versions of our popular workshops and training sessions. Member districts receive a special rate for AASB sessions: $600 includes preparation, up to 3 hours of training, and a post-training report.
  • Board/Superintendent Relations
  • How to run Effective Meetings
  • Board Self Evaluations (with a resulting board improvement plan)
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Board’s Quasi-Judicial Role
  • Using Your District’s Data for Planning
  • Data for School Boards
  • School Budget & Finance
  • Family Engagement
  • Youth Engagement
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Policy
  • Facilitated Superintendent Evaluation
  • Advisory School Committees
  • Charter Schools
  • Communications with your board
  • Labor Relations
  • Ethics
  • School Climate: What does School Climate & Connectedness look like now?
  • Trauma-Engaged Schools
  • Specialized facilitation:
  • Focus on particular issues
  • Choice of program
  • Scheduling to meet the needs of your board members and administrators
  • Team building
We can also provide customized solutions based on your needs. 
Please reach out to us.

- More Information -

Email Timi Tullis or call 907-463-1660
AASB Superintendent Search Service
Looking for a New Superintendent?

The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting successful and economical superintendent searches for over twenty years.
Our Superintendent Search Service provides expert facilitation of the entire search process, including identifying the needs of the district, recruiting candidates, conducting background searches, facilitating interviews, and all the steps to help with the hiring process. Learn about our Search Service

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us

Your school district is a vital member of the Association of Alaska School Boards, our state’s leading advocate for public education. Together, we work to ensure equity by strengthening the connections between schools, families, tribes, communities, and government so that every Alaskan child has the opportunity to receive a quality public education.

The many services AASB offers are designed to provide maximum benefit to our members in meeting their district's goals. Check out our Membership Benefits brochure and let us know how we can assist you!

Association of Alaska School Boards | aasb.org